December 23 – Joseph Smith’s Birthday (Christian – Mormon) – He was the American Mormon Leader, founder of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.
December 25 – Christmas Day (Christian) – This day celebrates Jesus Christ’s birth over 2,000 years ago. Customs include lighting candles, exchanging gifts and using evergreen decorations to celebrate this day, the most widely observed Christian festival of the year. In most communities it is a family day.
December 26 – Death of Prophet Zarathustra (Zoroastrian) – This day marks the death of the founder of the Zoroastrian faith.
December 26 – Kwanzaa (African-American/Canadian) – A professor who wanted to encourage blacks to celebrate their heritage started Kwanzaa’s in California in 1966. Kwanzaa means first fruit in Swahili and is a harvest festival. Families exchange gifts and have African-style feasts. Seven-pronged candleholders are lit on each consecutive night for the seven principles: unity, self-determination, working together, sharing, purpose, creativity and faith. The celebration continues until January 1.
December 26 – Boxing Day (Bahamas, Canada, Jamaica, UK, Ireland) – It was once a day when the church’s poor boxes were opened. In Britain, originally a day when gifts (boxes) were given to servants, tradespeople, or others who provide services.
December 26 – Wren Day/St Stephen’s Day (Ireland) – On Wren Day, boys in wren costumes go from house to house with a captured wren, singing songs and gathering coins. These coins help to pay for a big celebratory feast in the evening.
December 27 – Ashura (Islam) – The tenth day of the first Islamic month (Muharram). For Shi’ite Muslims, this day mourns the martyrdom of Hazrat Imam Husain, the grandson of Prophet Muhammad. Devout Shi’a commemorate this day of sadness with retelling the story of the battle fought in Kerbala.
December 30 – Rizal Day (Philippines) – This day commemorates the death of Jose Mercado Rizal in 1896, a Philippine doctor and author whose books denounced Spanish administration. He was an inspiration to the Philippine nationalist movement.
December 31 – Gahambar Maidyarem (through January 4) (Zoroastrian) – This day celebrates the creation of animals. It is also a time for the equitable sharing of food.
December 31 – Omisoka (Japan) – To usher in the new year, families clean their homes, eat toshi-koshi buckwheat noodles in the hope that one’s life will be stretched out as long as these noodles. As midnight approaches, Buddhist temples around the country begin ringing out the old year, sounding the temple bell 108 times because according to them, human beings have 108 worldly desires which are removed by striking the bell.
Part of a posting series on multicultural events for 2009.